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Frederick (Fred) Kidman (?–1904)

from Sunday Times

A few weeks ago a telegram appeared in the dailies announcing the death, by drowning, of Mr. Frederick S. Kidman, but giving no particulars of the sad fatality. The respect in which the deceased was held and his position as a battler for the advancement of the West, as well as on account of the numerous friends of his relatives and the relatives themselves, induces us to publish an account of the accident as furnished to us by one who was present at the time, and, indeed, was an actor in the scene. We publish the narrative just as it was sent to us, because it bears the stamp of truth upon its unvarnished surface; and it serves the further purpose of revealing to the happy people of Perth and the settled portions of the State the horrors yet prevailing in the wild Nor'-West, and the shameless sin and revolting vices that flourish under the very eyes of the authorities, of which Prinsep can no longer pretend to be ignorant:

March 11, 1904. Allow me a small space," he writes, "to show the hardships and snags a traveller meets in this well known 'Black Nor-West.' I left Broome with my swag to catch the shearing and droving season on the Fitzroy River. I arrived at the river, which was a banker, and was compelled to walk up the flood banks till I came to a station called 'Myroodah,' where I made the acquaintance of a man by the name of Mr. F. S. Kidman. He gave me an invitation to go and stay at his camp (situated eight miles along the station, on the river) till the river went down or till they started to shear. I arrived at the station on the 25th and on the 26th I started with Mr. Kidman for his camp. When we got within a quarter of a mile of his camp we came to a billabong. There was nothing for it but to swim. It was about one hundred yards across and running very strong. I fastened my tucker on my head and started to swim for a place where Kidman said I could bottom it. He called out "Try it," but I disappeared and when I came to the surface I had to strike out and get up a tree where I left my wet load and went on with just my singlet and trousers. I started back and got half way when I heard Kidman talking to his mate who had arrived on the opposite bank. When I swam out I said to Kidman 'It is running very strong' and I advised him not to tackle it. He said: 'Now I am here I will try it; but you take the lead.' I started, and got three parts across. Kidman said 'Stay there, till I get over to you.' He started, but could only get half way to me when he got into a tree.

I said, 'Fred, old man, you had better go back.' 'No, I will face it now,' he replied. He started, but when he got within ten yards of me he called for help. I went to his assistance and he put his hands on my shoulders, I had taken about three strokes when I felt him slip down my back, till he caught my swag. He hung to it till I was within a few yards of a tree and away he went, and with him the swag. I looked around but could see no sign of him. I caught hold of a bush and waited and watched, but he never came to the surface again. I lost my swag and boots and returned to the station with merely the soles of a pair of boots laced to my feet. I reported the occurrence to the manager, Mr. Watson, who said, 'It matters very little what becomes of him now he is dead.' I started to search for his body on the first of the month, and again on the second. I went and got Kidman's mate and brought him into the station, when he handed in a written statement. I told Watson I was tired and footsore, and asked him to send some blacks out to look for Kidman. On Wednesday, the 3rd, he sent them, and they found Kidman's body the last thing in the evening. When they came up and told me I went to the manager to see about some stuff wherewith to make a coffin. He said, 'I have nothing I can give you.' I asked him for the loan of a cart to shift him out of flood-level. He replied: 'Dig a hole on the bank of the billabong. I can't lend you any cart. I will lend you a horse to ride up.' But it was a colt, not a horse, that was lent me, and one that had never had a saddle on him for 12 months. I am pleased to say he did not buck, but I am sorry to say we had to bury poor Kidman in ground that every flood covers two or three feet over his grave.

 When I returned to the station I told Watson he ought to send his report into the police. He said: 'It has nothing to do with me. You write into the police.' I said 'You have my statement in writing, and that is all I can do in the matter.' I left Myroodah station, where that hard-hearted mortal resides, on Sunday the 6th, and up to date (the 14th of March) there has been no inquiry of any kind. Myroodah station is the dirtiest I have ever seen. The homestead itself is dirty. Although the manager has a gin she has no children. The Chinaman' is an half-caste, he is the father of one child. The man who works round the homestead has two yellow youngsters sleeping on the floor at his bedside and the boundary rider has a gin who carries a revolver in her belt to prevent the blacks from stealing her. Unless you can speak the language of the blacks they have no use for you at Myroodah station. Watson could not send a black boy to tell the police of Kidman's death. However, since he started shearing he happened to run short of tobacco, and then he could manage to send a black boy forty miles down to Lower Liveringer for two pounds for the use of the shearers. If there should happen to be a travelling manager I would advise him to have a trip after shearing and gather up the loose wool lying about the shed, for I saw over one hundred pounds worth blowing about the pens and yards.

Original publication

Other Obituaries for Frederick (Fred) Kidman

Citation details

'Kidman, Frederick (Fred) (?–1904)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 24 May 2024.

© Copyright Obituaries Australia, 2010-2024

Life Summary [details]


11 February, 1904
Western Australia, Australia

Cause of Death


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